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Kansas State University scientists Kun Yan Zhu and Subramanyam "Subi" Bhadriraju, in collaboration with scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Oklahoma State University, are on the hunt to find the best, safest and most cost-effective ways to manage insects in facilities such as wheat flour mills, rice mills and pasta plants.
"The costs and benefits of these various integrated pest management strategies in food-processing facilities have not been critically evaluated, optimally integrated or compared with whole facility treatments," said K-State´s Bhadriraju. He is a professor of stored- product entomology, based in the Department of Grain Science and Industry. "We have recently concluded tests in our Hal Ross Flour Mill on campus, where methyl bromide, sulfuryl fluoride and heat were compared side by side for the first time," added Subramanyam. The results from these tests were shared at three workshops held in 2009 and 2010. The current project adds to the body of information on methyl bromide and alternatives that all of the scientists have been working on for over a decade.
"We´ll evaluate the costs and benefits of various integrated pest management (IPM) strategies, such as sanitation, inbound inspection, stock rotation, visual inspection (to monitor pests), trapping/sampling of pests, application of crack and crevice treatments, and more specifically the use of aerosols (fogging)," he said. Many companies have stepped away from whole facility treatments and have been successfully managing stored-product pests using aerosols, in combination with other IPM tactics.
For this study, the team is setting its sights on the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum, a common and economically important pest in food-processing facilities.
Some of the research will be conducted at K-State´s Hal Ross Flour Mill in Manhattan, and other studies will take place at 10 to 15 cooperating commercial facilities.
Once the team has sufficient data, the cost-effectiveness of various IPM tactics will be evaluated through detailed economic analyses," Subramanyam said.
The researchers plan to share their findings with grain industry groups through a hands-on workshop in late spring, 2011 and presentations at industry meetings. Outreach efforts will be supplemented with printed materials and electronic formats.